“Seriously, God? You want me to post about this? But don’t you know this issue is such a struggle for me and I don’t feel like I have a handle on it…”
I’ve always been a talker, whether expressing my opinions on things, or speaking about things I “think” I know. Sometimes I have said something and one of my kids would say “you just made that up, didn’t you mom?” and I would have to say “yes – but it could be right”.
I never really cussed much or said hurtful things to or about people on purpose. But I’m not the most tactful when I share my thoughts either. It’s been a lifelong problem for me. I can look back and see that I’ve opened my mouth on many occasions to “help” and it backfired big time. Learning to examine my heart before speaking is a lesson God continues to work on with me.
I recently heard someone say that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk.
The book of Proverbs has wisdom for those of us who have a tendency to speak carelessly.
‘Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.’ Proverbs 10:19, 21
We have the power to wound or heal by the words that we speak. Proverbs 18:21 says,
“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
‘Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.’ Proverbs 12:18
James spoke very plainly in his letter to Jewish Christians about how powerful our tongue can be if we let it control us instead of the other way around.
‘If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.’ James 1:26
‘People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! ‘ James 3:7-10
This is straight talk (pardon the pun) about how not to speak, so how are we encouraged to speak? Paul wrote in Ephesians about this when he said,
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ‘ Ephesians 4:29 NIV
‘Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.’ Ephesians 5:4
And in Colossians,
‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.’ Colossians 4:6
So we are to speak in ways that build each other up. We’re to talk about how thankful we are for all God has done in our lives. And we’re to speak in a kind way that will be received well by others.
I don’t know about you, but I feel more than a little convicted. I want to do better. The more we are controlled by the Spirit instead of “self”, the more easily our tongue will be tamed! I hope your prayer is the same as mine:
‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer.’ Psalms 19:14
(The version of the Bible used in this post is the New Living Translation unless noted otherwise. This version is straight talk, and so, was used here.)
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29